Powerboat or sailboat — what’s driving ministry?

By June 18, 2009

USA (MNN) — The Coalition on the Support of Indigenous Ministries (COSIM) is a fellowship of evangelical organizations with a common interest in the support and development of majority-world ministries. COSIM met at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan this week to talk about the issue of powerboat ministry versus sailboat style ministry.

Alex Araujo with
Partners International was the keynote speaker, and he says many mission organizations use a powerboat strategy. "We can actually be very good at making things happen if we bring the variables under control. So we create industrial systems where we put the pieces together correctly, with the right training and the right process. But in the Kingdom, we don't have control over the variables."

Araujo says as Christians, we need to have more of a sailboat approach to ministry. "The wind is external to the boat. What drives the boat is external. The sailor doesn't have control. And that's how it is with the Spirit. We don't control Him. We have to depend on him. So the sailing skills are different from the powerboat skills in the Kingdom."

Christians in the West have a hard time understanding biblical ministry principles, says Araujo. "Paul said to the Corinthians, 'I planted and Apollos watered, but it's God who gives the fruit.' We have been focusing on trying to make the fruit grow and God says, 'No, that's My part.'"

According to Araujo, it's important for churches in North America to realize they don't have all the answers. "The South isn't just waiting for our initiatives," says Araujo. "They're taking initiative themselves. And we need to learn a whole different way of relating to them. If we don't learn, we're going to be a handicap to the movement instead of an asset."

Tom Dudenhoffer with
Audio Scripture Ministries agrees with Araujo. He's thankful for God's ability "to work beyond our plans and come at problems and challenges from a way that would never enter our mind. But He has already planted that idea with our national partners, and we have to be reminded to take the time to listen."

While many churches in the West want to travel abroad to change the world, Don Edwards with Mission India of Grand Rapids, Michigan, says that's generally not a good expectation. "We take groups to India all the time, but we take them to see what God is doing, rather than to do something. It's not what most churches really want to do."

Unfortunately, many churches want to provide the answers for overseas outreach rather than come alongside and help a national Christians who already knows what to do.

The COSIM conference wrapped up yesterday.

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